Q&A: Without Warning

Q&A: Without Warning
Q I am a co-op owner of 8 years and our management has raised the late fees from  $25 to $50. Can this be done without any warnings? This affects me as I am not able to pay the maintenance and parking by the 10th  of each month. I have written my management and informed them that I can only pay the  maintenance and parking by the 15th of the month. Can anything be done about  this? I do not see anything stipulated in my proprietary lease.  

 —Late Payer  

A “According to the standard proprietary lease, maintenance is due on the 1st day  of the month. Most cooperatives impose fees for the late payment of maintenance after a grace  period, most usually ten (10) days though I have seen as little as five (5)  days and as much as fifteen (15) days,” says attorney Jeremy J. Deutsch, with the Manhattan-based law firm of Tane  Waterman & Wurtzel, P.C. “This is a decision that is made by the board of directors. The writer here says it was imposed by management, but I assume the decision was  made by the board of directors as the managing agent would not have the  authority to impose such a fee on its own.  

 “Shareholders must be given written notice of the imposition of a fee as well as  of an increase in the amount of the fee or a change in the applicable grace  period prior to the fee’s imposition or any change to it. Such notice should be given at least thirty  (30) days prior to the change to avoid any argument that there was insufficient  notice given. An increase in the amount of the fee from $25 to $50 is not out of line with  what many cooperatives charge. The writer concedes that his or her problem is  that he or she can’t pay the maintenance and parking fees within the ten (10) day grace period  allowed by the cooperative. The writer should remember that the proprietary  lease mandates that maintenance is due by the 1st day of the month and any time  given after that for payment is a grace period allowed by the cooperative.  While, of course, the writer may try and make special arrangements for his  payment to be by the 15th of the month without imposition of a fee, I think it  unlikely that the cooperative would consent to avoid setting a precedent of  treating shareholders differently and because it would be unwieldy to handle  shareholders differently.”  

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